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‘Who does she think she is?’ Vernacular medium and failed romance

Sandhu, P. (2014). ‘Who does she think she is?’ Vernacular medium and failed romance. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 13(1), 16–33.

Through a close analysis of an Indian woman’s unsuccessful romance narrative, this paper examines how class-based ideologies and prejudices concerning English and vernacular medium education sustain and perpetuate dismissive and disparaging attitudes towards people educated in the vernacular. The analysis utilizes theoretical understandings of difference as delineated in the work of Bakhtin (Holquist, 2002), Said ([1978]1994), and Hall (1996) to examine the narrator’s self-construction of a former marginalized identity. This construction, emanating from her Hindi medium education, is fashioned in relation to the elite linguistic and class-based ideologies articulated by narrated characters that belong to a higher socioeconomic background than the narrator. Additionally, the analysis reveals the hegemonic internalization of these discriminatory ideologies by the narrator. The study is situated in a north Indian city and is based on interview data collected for a larger project wherein nineteen women narrated how their medium of education impacted their lives.

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